The latest: Several Afghan journalists in exile have written an open letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and said that the journalists who currently reside in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, face death, humiliation, and threats every moment.
- In a letter sent to António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, the journalists said that so far, 115 journalists have been arrested, harassed, threatened, or tortured.
- According to these journalists, five journalists have been killed and some have been missing in the past year alone.
- They also brought to light the “sad situation” of imprisoned journalists in Afghanistan and called for the transfer of journalists in neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, including Iran, Pakistan, and India, to secure locations.
- The letter states that many Afghan exiled journalists have reached a point in Pakistan, Iran, and India where they are forced to sell their body parts to find some food items for their children.
- The letter adds that some journalists have been forced to leave the country and are now wandering in different countries.
- According to the letter’s authors, 378 media outlets in Afghanistan, which made up 60% of the country’s media outlets, have been shut down or are on the verge of being blocked due to the severe restrictions of Taliban and online media outlets have faced serious censorship.
- The letter’s authors asked António Guterres to create the conditions for relevant institutions to address this issue and put pressure on Taliban to respect the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.
- The letter demanded that “violations of freedom of expression, freedom of the media and access to information rights in Afghanistan should be recognized as a human tragedy”.
Zoom out: With Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, a large number of journalists have been forced to flee to neighbouring and European countries due to security issues.
- Taliban, by pressuring the media in Afghanistan, have made journalistic work difficult. Taliban have been trying to censor news and reports that contradict their theories. They have also imposed sanctions on journalists and some reporters have fled due to security threats.
- A number of Afghan journalists, who are currently staying in Pakistan, complain about several problems they are facing. The expiry of visas and passports, harassment by Pakistani police for lack of legal documents, house searches, paying bribes to avoid detention, financial handicaps and high rents are among the problems they are facing in Pakistan.
- Hujatullah Mujadidi, head of the Afghanistan’s Independent Journalists Association, said up to 300 Afghan journalists and media workers live in Pakistan and faced multiple problems.